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Games Entertainment

Time To Stop Calling Them Games? 220

GamePolitics wonders aloud about our use of the term game to describe electronic entertainment. In the author's view, referring to videogames as 'games' is inhibiting their adoption by mainstream society (who relates gaming to children's activities). From the article: "Things have changed, of course. Video game content now runs the gamut from kid-friendly titles like Curious George and LEGO Star Wars to adult-themed offerings such as GTA San Andreas and Black to the highly socialized online communities of World of Warcraft and Second Life or the largely adult-populated casual game scene of Pogo. Over the years, gamers and game designers have recognized the artistic and expressive potential of videogames, along with their power to enlighten and entertain players from four to ninety-four. But there are also millions who missed that particular cultural bus."
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Time To Stop Calling Them Games?

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  • Question is, what would you call them? As long as it's not something like 'Infotainment', I don't mind...
    • My Preference (Score:3, Interesting)

      by TubeSteak ( 669689 )
      We call them G@mes, if for no other reason than to confuse the ignorant.

      You know who I mean. All those parents and commentators who open their yappers without ever having actually played one of the G@mes they're bitching about. We can insist on some stupid pronunciation just to make them sound really dumb when they're talking about them... and hopefully, this will cause them to stop talking about G@mes.

      Alternate spellings:
      and any combinations of the above
      • They're still just games, and nothing more. We all know of a few subgroups in society who change their title every decade or so when the new name becomes sullied with all the old connotations. What does it accomplish?
    • Interactive novels, like comics are graphic novels perhaps.

      In other news, we should call dogs "Canine Americans"
    • We should call them Virtual Interaction with Distinctly Eleet (misspelling intentional)Overall Graphicly Amorphous Majestic Entertainment Systems...or for short..V.I.D.E.O.G.A.M.E.S.
    • Obviously, many of them are killer training programs, or murder simulators. Video "games" my ass!! We are training our children to become hardened murders who have no sense of human rights.

      If you disagree with this statement, I'll fucking kill you.


      -Jack Thompson
  • Good idea! (Score:5, Funny)

    by AKAImBatman ( 238306 ) <> on Monday February 13, 2006 @11:57AM (#14707480) Homepage Journal
    We can separate "games" into two categories. The fun stuff that people actually like playing can continue to be called "games". The adult oriented, artistic works of sound and video that are supposed to be admired for the sake of it can then be called "garbage". Sound like a plan? :-P

    (Tongue firmly stapled to my cheek.)
  • by LeeItson ( 943487 ) on Monday February 13, 2006 @11:58AM (#14707486)
    I think it is time to change the fact we call them games. I personally still deal with the fact that gaming is a waste of time to so many. My parents sit and watch the tv all night after dinner but they can't see that doing that is no different from me playing my games for the same amount of time. Why doing something on a console or computer is so different than sitting in front of a television I will never know.
    • MOD PARENT UP (Score:3, Insightful)

      by LeonGeeste ( 917243 )
      Some people just don't "get" how much less of a waste computers are compared to TV. When visiting home, my parents always lecture me on how much I use the computer. The last time, I said, "I just learned about the Coasean Theory of the firm, the P=NP problem, and the history of late-19th century Australia on Wikipedia, while you were learning about the latest celebrity gossip. Who's wasting whose time here?" (I think I said it more tactfully though.) I know, that's the internet, not gaming, but the bias
    • by miskatonic alumnus ( 668722 ) on Monday February 13, 2006 @01:24PM (#14708629)
      What stigma?

      Bridge, poker, chess, pool are all games played by adults.

      And if the adults aren't playing the games of football, basketball, hockey, baseball, etc. then they are watching other people play those games.

      Games don't carry a stigma. They are at least as old as mankind.
      • by BeanBunny ( 936648 ) on Monday February 13, 2006 @07:08PM (#14712323)

        What stigma?

        You are partly right, but your statement reveals that you have, in fact, never met my father.

        I believe he is in good company. To explain: In a way, what you are saying is like saying that sex doesn't carry a stigma. It is at least as old as mankind.

        The truth is that certain kinds of sex carry a stigma, and all sex is viewed as having some sort of specific purpose and level of appropriateness for a given situation.

        Likewise, you will find that my father does not mind playing Sequence or Skip-Bo during Christmas, but the same man viewed my dozens of hours roaming through King's Quest (during my younger years) as wasted time.

        Part of that is because he did not receive the same enjoyment out the activity that I did, but another part is because he felt that there were more productive ways to spend time, each one of which involved more a) physical activity (preferably outside), b) social interaction, c) potential for earning a living, or d) any combination of the above.

        I think you will find that most people who are non-gamers (electronic) would share the same view. This is called a stigma.

        This situation reflects a social view that is held on almost any subject. Most activity is acceptable under certain circumstances, but not when that boundary of benefit and/or appropriateness is crossed. For example, if you were to gamble at a casino as much as some of us play Counter Strike or WoW, you would be considered compulsive and be recommended to seek treatment. Even a nightly bridge club is considered excessive by many.

        Any activity that one does not understand/enjoy/deem-to-be-of-value bears the burden of disapproval. This is a view that we all carry, as the GP proved so eloquently by stating that he views his parents' TV-watching as wasteful.

  • New name!! (Score:5, Funny)

    by chrnb ( 243739 ) <> on Monday February 13, 2006 @12:01PM (#14707520) Homepage
    how about calling them adult entertainment ..oh wait
  • But, what one word fits better. Yes, game isn't perfect, but it is close and everyone understands it so why change it?

    • by gfxguy ( 98788 )
      I disagree, "Game" is perfect, it's exactly what this kind of electronic entertainment is. Sure, you might have add something to it... children's games, adult games, real time strategy games, arcade games... but they are all still just games.

      The only ones that might depart from that might be open ended simulation games, like SimCity or a flight simulator. In which case "simulation" is fine.
  • by ObligatoryUserName ( 126027 ) on Monday February 13, 2006 @12:03PM (#14707551) Journal
    Do do you call Comic Books "Sequential art"? Me neither, see how well it worked when they tried the name game?

    As impatient as well all are to reshape society, the solution isn't to change the name. New names would only get used by academics and the like. You really have to wait for people to gain their own personal respect for games. Yes, it may take multiple generations, or it may happen as more mainstream oriented and casual games increase the audience, it probably won't happen by trying to give games a new name.
    • by pdbogen ( 596723 ) <> on Monday February 13, 2006 @12:13PM (#14707703) Homepage
      Do do you call Comic Books "Sequential art"?

      "Graphic Novel"?
      New name invented to cover an aspect of the genre that felt trivialized by the epithet of "comic book".
      • Let's see how that worked out for them - oh, yeah, everyone I know laughs when they hear the term "graphic novel." It's a joke in and of itself. Good job on that one, guys - highlighting your self-conscious anxiety by acting on it.
      • by argStyopa ( 232550 ) on Monday February 13, 2006 @01:38PM (#14708857) Journal
        Which is a perfect, perfect example.

        "Graphic Novel" = term used exclusively by fans of the genre, particularly signalling something that purports to be more serious and adult-themed.

        "Comic book" or "comics" = term used by the other 95% of people to refer to test publications in which the huge majority of page space is pictures, rather than text.

        Ironically, the industry agrees wholeheartedly that they should be called graphic novels, because people will spend $10 on a 'graphic novel' when they wouldn't even consider $3 for a 'comic book'.

        Personally, they're still comic books, despite the extraordinarily high quality artwork and compelling stories (cf. Neil Gaiman, among many others) that they contain.

        But I'm still not paying $10 for a comic book. :)
        • The terms "graphic novel" and "comic book" refer to both format and genre. If someone talks about a "comic book movie," chances are they mean X-Men or Superman and not Ghost World, Road to Perdition, or A History of Violence. This leads to ambiguity in just what the terms actually mean.

          I can't bring myself to call anything made up of 22 pages stapled together a "graphic novel," no matter how serious, but a 150-page hardcover or trade paperback? Maybe. I'm more inclined if it's all one long story, especi
      • Actually "Graphic Novel" came more to the front when Japanese Manga hit the US harder (read: when Tokyopop started spamming the market) and when it came to adults and non-anime people, their classification for it was "comics" or "japanese comics" (or japanese porn as my father used to put it) Fans would always come back hot-headed insisting they were either "Graphic Novels" or "Manga" (then spinning off a debate on how to pronounce Manga)

        Names mean things to certain people. Everyone calls a Q-Tip a Q-Tip, n
      • It's funny how even comic fans misinterpret the term Graphic Novel. There are two types of comics. The usual 'pamphlet' types which are 32 odd pages, come out monthly, etc. Graphic Novels refer to larger stories that may be 100 or more pages and feel more like a novel in size.

        At a guess, the term came about when people 'ported' novels into a comic book style novel -- ie; a graphic novel. It may have been someone like Gaiman, but going back to the late 80's even authors like Peirs Anthony had their novels ad
  • by cpearson ( 809811 ) on Monday February 13, 2006 @12:03PM (#14707556) Homepage
    It is not hard to see that many if not most media types will converge. Games are the current media type that are developing and perfecting the virtual world interface. I predict a convergence of all media and communications into Sims-like game that simulates (optimizes) your day to day life. - yada yada - Games will dominate.

    Interactive Billings Wireless Map []

  • It's a good idea. In theory -- and only in theory.

    In reality, everybody will still call them games. I mean, I still snicker when I hear "graphic novel". Why? It's kind of stupid, IMHO -- changing the name doesn't really change the thing, and I identify "graphic novel" (vs. comic book) more with the people who insist on calling it that than with the thing itself. Same with people who insist on differences between "film" and "movie".

    How about instead of changing the name, people change their associations? (Wh
    • You obviously havn't seen the large hardcover bound "Graphic Novels". Seems weird to call them anything but. Though for smaller ones it would be like calling my 3 page shortstory a Novel, just not true. They probably would get away with a secondary term for them, but they havn't really tried.
  • Slow news day????? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Stavr0 ( 35032 ) on Monday February 13, 2006 @12:04PM (#14707567) Homepage Journal
    "Card Games"
    A "game of chess"

    Oh yes, the word "game" has way too much of a childish connotation. :-/

    • Also, the hunting of wild game, which is clearly an activity for small tots.
    • The word "game" is (ab)used to mean childish things alone by Joe and Jane Public. That, however, is the fate of many words and unless somebody is proposing a Word Police*, I don't see that changing any time soon. If you were to approach a mathematician who specializes in Game Theory, don't expect them to merely be very good at Ludo or Snap.

      I think it safe to say that "game" is a very old word, which means it has probably had many meanings over time. I fully expect that trend to continue. Those things we cal

      • L'academie is often mocked. They come up with some of the most outlandish terms you could think
        of, although a few are nifty like vacancette (little vacation) for weekend. While I learned of the naming
        restriction from an old text book too, it was dropped sometime ago.
      • Random fact: French has about 100,000 words. English has about 616,500 according to the Oxford English Dictionary. Many estimate put it much higher.

        Source: ml []
        • If you include usable archaic words (words that people in England would recognize, even if they wouldn't actually use them in general conversation) and regional words that are sufficiently limited that they wouldn't make it into the OED, my guess is you could probably double the number of words estimated in the English language. If you include American English and International English, it would likely be closer to triple.

          I've long held the belief that the total complexity of language (which would be a meas

  • Sure... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DoktorSeven ( 628331 ) on Monday February 13, 2006 @12:07PM (#14707619) Homepage Journal
    and you can call blogs a "LiveJournal", and it still doesn't change that it's still just a blog filled with yet another silly opinion. :)
  • I prefer the term 'murder simulator'. /me ducks.
  • Next, you'll be referring to your comic books as graphic novels.

    Frankly, I see no reason to be embarassed that I play video games. Everyone my age knows what an Atari was (though, I had a kick-ass ColecoVision with the Atari adapter). If they forgot why video games were fun, it's not my problem.
    • Next, you'll be referring to your comic books as graphic novels.
      No, graphic novels are a kind of comic books. Wikipedia: "A graphic novel is a long-form comic book, usually with lengthy and complex storylines, and often aimed at more mature audiences."
      • Of course, it's a subset of comic books, but why does it have to be called something else? The point is that people aren't comfortable saying, "Yeah, I read comic books. They aren't just for kids."

        I play Warcraft. It's not a medieval-themed, social-centric, combat simulator (which would be a subset of video games designed for more mature audiences). It's a [i]video game[/i] and calling it something else gives credence to those who would portray a "typical" one as juvenile.
  • How about... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PFI_Optix ( 936301 ) on Monday February 13, 2006 @12:10PM (#14707679) Journal
    ...a GAME of golf today?

    Then we can watch the big GAME on TV.

    We still on for the poker GAME Thursday night?

    The problem isn't the word "game". It's the term "video game". People still associate that with adolescents in dark arcades playing Pac-Man. We need to simply drop "video" when refering to an adult-oriented game and people won't think twice about it.
    • Re:How about... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by OwlWhacker ( 758974 )
      Too true. Game is certainly not just associated with activities for children. You could add football and baseball to the list - which are both a hit with kids and adults.

      I think it's the image of bleary-eyed youths, sitting locked into a video game, feeding agression, spending hours playing continuously, wasting their lives, that puts people off - rather than the fact that it's a game.

      If you call it something like 'Interactive Media Entertainment', at least for a short time people should feel better about
    • The problem isn't the word "game".

      The problem is not any words at all; words are not problems, stigmas attached to words are problems. Maybe.

      Personally, I don't lose much sleep wondering what people think of my computer use or how much time I spend playing games. It simply doesn't matter to me, and whether they get a vision of a pimply-faced teen (I'm 22 by the way) sitting in a dark basement or not doesn't phase me a lot either.

      That said, if there is any problem with the stigmas associated with th

      • The problem is not any words at all; words are not problems, stigmas attached to words are problems. Maybe.

        Well, if you want to get picky...the problem with some people has nothing to do with the word game. Better? :)

        I'm a 28-year-old gamer. I own and regularly play an XBOX, but most of my gaming is on the trusty old PC. I regularly have LAN parties at my house. Games--primarily FPS and RTS--are my primary source of entertainment; I spend five hours gaming for every one hour I spend watching TV.


  • Backgammon, Go, etc.

    Games are shouldn't be considered childrens activities, they improve the mind. More sophisticated games have never been primarily children's activities. I remember I was recently in Atlanta's Chinatown and two people in a Chinese restaurant were playing Xiangqi [] (these were adult men). I believe Hiroshi Yamauchi himself is a top ranked Go player, and lest we forget, Nintendo got it's start manufacturing HanaFuda [] cards, especially profitable because the Yakuza insisted on a fresh deck

  • Huh? (Score:2, Interesting)

    Maybe I'm missing something.... []

    The average player is 30, 43% are women, 18% are over 50 and revenues exceed that of movies.

    How much more mainstream does gaming need to be?

    I'm also wondering who thinks "games" are just for kids? Not many kids playing Bridge, Shuffleboard, Bingo, etc....
  • You could have fooled me with that one.
  • Great Idea! (Score:2, Funny)

    by jettoki ( 894493 )
    Let's call them "sex" from now on. It's a term with popular appeal, and very few gamers are going to confuse it with any of their other regular activities.
  • I don't think the word "game" is a huge hindrance. The respectability of theater hasn't been hindered noticably by the term "play," as far as I can tell. And any kind of self-conscious relabeling of games would just be silly and obvious.

    Anyway, don't we already have our euphemisms lined up? E3 could just be GE, but they decided "electronic entertainment" sounded more professional than "games". I've also heard "interactive entertainment," "multimedia experience," and so on.

    They're all dumb. And frankly, any
  • by the_skywise ( 189793 ) on Monday February 13, 2006 @12:20PM (#14707802)
    "Things have changed, of course. Book content now runs the gamut from kid-friendly titles like Curious George and The Ewok Adventure to adult-themed offerings such as Lolita and A Clockwork Orange to the highly socialized plays of Les Miserable and Romeo & Juliet or the largely adult-populated operas of Mozart. Over the years, books and writers have recognized the artistic and expressive potential of the written word, along with their power to enlighten and entertain readers from four to ninety-four. But there are also millions who missed that particular cultural bus."

    Books are containers for written content.
    Games are containers for interactive content.

    I don't see the problem here other than to separate the "good" stuff from the "bad" stuff to help offset political restrictions.
  • Where is the gaming in some of these simulation "games"? They truly are interactive entertainment, but maybe not games in the traditional sense. Sometimes there is no winner/loser or competition at all. That's not a game. For instance...there is no game in Animal Crossing (and I assume the Sims but have never played it). They are just interactive entertainment.
    • The Sims may not have a winner... but when your sim is pulling his hair out and throwing temper tantrums because he can't find a bathroom (because you spent all your simoleons on the plasma television) causing him to miss work and get fired compounding the lack of funds siutation... well. I hesitate to say there is no loser.
  • Just as soon as we stop calling them "movies" or "books." Don't even get me started on calling academic publications "journals."
  • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Monday February 13, 2006 @12:38PM (#14708060) Homepage Journal
    I don't see Basketball having problems being called a "game". And plenty of middle aged people strap on their ace bandages and stock up on liniment for regular weekend participation.

    Although in some cases you might be tempted to call certain entertainment software "sports", and stuff like The Sims might most accurately be called a "software toy", "game" is probably the most accurate and neutral term to cover most things that are sold in that particular isle of your local computer store.

  • But I've been... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by rAiNsT0rm ( 877553 )
    playing on my Sony *Computer Entertainment System* for years even though it has barely any actual correlation to a computer. God forbid we play "games" I mean how gay is that?

    It's a freakin game, folks. Stop trying to legitimize it and make it into an "industry" like Hollywood or the music industry... just have some damn fun playing a game. Instead of arguing over if it can display 1.2 million or 1.3 million polygons, and mortgaging your home for an SLi videocard setup so you can play at 120FPS (which your
    • In the mid-'90s, when CD drives were added to game systems, they started calling everything "interactive multimedia systems" or such bullshit.

      So, two words: Trip Hawkins.
  • "...referring to videogames as 'games' is inhibiting their adoption by mainstream society"

    Is mainstream adoption something we really need to be pushing for? I don't get this. People are either interested, or they're not. If they are, they'll find their way to video games (or whatever you feel like calling them), and if they're not, don't worry about it.

    I'm sure they find other ways to entertain themselves, and I doubt there's some hole in their lives that will only be filled by an "interactive entert

  • Change video games to "Entertainment Software"? To HELL with that! I like the name as it is, and here's why: 1. "Entertainment Software" is too broad of a definition and can NOT be used to solely define video games alone. Entertainment software can come in the form of movies on DVD, software that builds entertainment (video and 3D editors), and basically anything digital that can be utilized for the purpose of entertainment. Even software that operates the lights and special effects of a concert would be "
  • While this is true, people ussually dont call videogames (or any other game) "games" you have to consider each game has its OWN NAME so they dont have to, "we are playing animal crossing", "we are playing halo", "we are playing Madden", "baseball", "football", "chess", etc. Also videogame consoles are shortened to "consoles" (for speed mostly) and a lot of companies already call themselves "electronic entertainment" or "entertainment studios" (some of them actually mention "game" proudly) So.. in short the
  • Bleh. Now they want to come up with a way to more effectively market things that are fun, so as to make them seem more "adult."

    I propose a new tagline for games of all sorts (video, board, etc.): "Games: Cognitive Entertainment Will Get You Ahead in Life!"

  • Extreem Gaming (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jeril ( 88660 )
    I don't think this society suffers from a lack of gaming or recreational activities. That is why games are almost a secret shame. When you fold in teevee, socializing, time at the club or rec centres -- which are all good, in proportion, how much time does each person spend. I think (that is I'm sure there is a study somewhere, but I'm too lazy to go look, lol) people in our society have a disproportionately large amout of free time than many societies.

    Slashdot is news, information, and recreation. Can we
  • ...SportPolitics wonders aloud about our use of the term game to describe sporting events. In the author's view, referring to sports as 'games' is inhibiting their adoption by mainstream society (who relates gaming to children's activities).
  • Super Happy Fun Activities (now with built-in eLearning)!
  • We should also consider remaming Olympic Games. Maybe something like The Totally Grown Up Althletic Competition of Olymipa, so no one will confuse them with childsplay or wasted time.
  • Well, I am not sure that everything with the word 'game' is considered childish. People 'watch games', whether it be football (aka Soccer in USA), Americain Football, baseball and cricket for example.

    Then then there are people play 'card games', such as Black Jack or Bridge, but then again maybe that is also known as gambling ;)

    And of course there are computer games and board games.

    In the end people play a certain type of game because it suits their sort of challenge. The truth is the issue with many compu
  • because you play them!

    I say sod any "adult" who thinks they are too grown up to play anymore :)
  • ...tried to replace the term "text adventure." Of course, in that case I think they wanted to hide the word "Text."
  • referring to videogames as 'games' is inhibiting their adoption by mainstream society
    Video games are mainstream. They have been adopted. It has already happend. New video games sell as much or more than opening day for a movie. Some people just don't like them. Just like some people don't like movies.
    I don't play them because I still haven't won my first game of nethack. I refuse to spend ay money on any new game until I do that.
  • Woohoo! More buzzwords! As others have pointed out, there are lots of adult-themed uses of the word "game," such as "Hey honey, you know not to bother me when I'm watching the game." I don't think it's the name that's halting adoption of video games to the masses, I think games just aren't intuitive to newcomers and have a high barrier to entry such as having to purchase a $400 piece of equipment and then spend hours trying to get good at a game.

    Working people don't have that type of time. I know because I
  • The problem is that most people have no idea that the term "game" means much more than "something kids do with each other". Ask John Nash, Oskar Morgenstern or John von Neumann. Politics. Economics. All games.
  • was associated with sleazy dives in New Orleans. It didn't become mainstream and get taken seriously until they started calling it "Polyrhythmic improvisational music."

    "Chess" was never taken seriously until they stopped calling it a game. It didn't take off until they started to call them "Combinatorial placement challenges."

    "The movies" never caught the attention of serious critics. That's why, today, everybody calls them "Photoplays."

    Yes, absolutely, what's important is not what it is, but what you
  • No No No- None of this inventing words crap. We're going to have another edu-tainment for kids or something silly like that.

    Why not just adapt what people consider to be a game. We all know what games are, but they just have a general negative ora about them. A game can be many things and people need to realize it's more than playing Street Fighter in the arcade, or tetris on a GameBoy, or those handheld games that play a single game on the unit using crappy LCDs. Games have evolved and are considered
  • The philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, in his Philosophical Investigations, discusses the term 'game' at length. He argues that whilst is is clear that the term lacks a precise boundary (para. 69-71), we can still meaningfully use the term in most cases. It seems that many of the observations here are just noticing what Wittgenstein noticed back in 1953. It was examples such as the term 'game' that led him to famously formulate his doctrine (para. 43) that "...the meaning of a word is its use in the language"
  • Just because you don't want to admit that you're still living in grandma's basement because you spend 23 1/2 hours per day gaming doesn't mean that they're not games.

    Hmmm . . . lessee . . . winners and losers, check . . . rules, check . . . primary motive for engaging in this activity, recreational, check . . . looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck . . . yup. It's a game.

    What next, you'll tell me that I can't call my new car "my new toy"? Get stuffed - there's nothing wrong with playi

  • You have got to be kidding me. They are game. They have been games, and will continue to be games.

    Way back in the mid 1980s, my computer had a good stragety game, a vocabulary game for kids, and a ASCII art strip poker game.

    The only difference between games then and games today is that the games are prettier, people take them more seriously, spend more money on them, and one can make money off one's prowess.

    But, even if there are professional game players, so what? Football has a professional side and it is
  • by Liam Slider ( 908600 ) on Monday February 13, 2006 @03:22PM (#14710059)
    So let's not call chess, poker, golf, pool, darts, or any of the other things which adults play "games" either! Clearly, we must make up an entirely new word because a handful of people have a giant stick up their asses over the term GAME!
  • inhibiting their adoption by mainstream society

    How? When? Where? Video games have absolutely saturated society at every level they need to! What more adoption do we need? Play them in our sleep?

  • ...which is why you see so many chess grandmasters under the age of 18.
  • We are gamers, aren't we proud of it ?

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